Christmas Day 2020
Corsock and Kirkpatrick Durham Church
Message from Pastor Michael, St Peters, Amasiri Junction, Nigeria
*Merry Christmas to You and all
the Brethren at CKPD!*
I know it has not been an easy year for us all. I know God has been too faithful despite all odds. I know your faith in Jesus Christ have grown higher by revelational experiences.
In all, I am grateful for all that the Lord had done for us in 2020. As we celebrate Christmas, let us be rest assured that God is still God and that he knows the way through the wilderness and all we need do is to follow as He leads.
All the brethren at St Peter's are wishing you all, A Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year in advance.
We love you all.
After counting the weeks of Advent we have come to Christmas Day.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness-- on them light has shined. Isaiah 9:2
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:9
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
Hymn: Joy to the World
We do lot of giving, and giving is good; but the real challenge of Christmas is to receive and to accept the gift of God
you, O loving God,
who gave your very self in human form,
your majesty born into our poverty,
your love lying in an out-house.
We thank you that, amidst Bethlehem's noisy rush,
we find in you
a focus for our activity,
a hope for you humanity,
a love for all eternity.
But we confess that
Christ's birth has gone unnoticed.
Now, as then, we have not made room
in our day to day lives.
Now, as then, we have mislaid
your message of reconciling love.
Now, as then, we have ignored
the stillness of your presence.
Gift-giving God, forgive us.
Free us from our self-centeredness.
Help us to accept your love so freely given
that we may live
as you have called us to live.
We bring before you our prayers, this morning and especially remember
all those who cannot be with their loved ones today whether by reason of work, duty, sickness or as a result of the Covid19 restrictions. We especially think of all the lorry drivers stranded in Kent. Due to the economic crisis many families will not be having a happy Christmas, we pray for them and for all those who have lost loved ones this year and where there will be an empty place at the table, We take time to remember Sally’s family..
Let us all now join in together the prayer that Jesus taught us:-
Our Father who art in heaven Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom the power and the glory for ever and ever Amen…
Hymn: Come and join the celebration
Luke ch 2 v 8 – 20
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields near by, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 ‘Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.’
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Amen
Hymn: Have You Heard the News Joanne Boyce & Mike Stanley, CJM Music
So what’s next? The crowds have dispersed, the hymns have been sung, and Christmas Eve has given way to the dawn of a new day. This morning’s light has overcome the night’s darkness. The waiting is over. The child has been born and the angel has announced the good news of great joy. So now what? What comes after the birth announcement? What do we do now that we have been told that the child has been born, wrapped in bands of cloth, and is lying in a manger?
There’s only one thing to do. Go and see. It’s something we’ve all done. We’ve all received a call, a text, an e-mail telling us that the baby has arrived and we got up to go and see. It’s one thing to hear about the birth. It’s another to see it, experience it, take it in, and make it a part of ourselves. That’s what this morning is about. That’s what today’s gospel (Luke 2:8-20) is about. “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place,” the shepherds say to one another.
Good news of great joy always demands a response. It asks us to go and see. That’s what the shepherds did and that’s what we must do. Today we go to Bethlehem. Bethlehem, however, is not just a physical place. Today Bethlehem is more than a geographical location in Israel. Today Bethlehem is within us. It is a spiritual reality in the heart of every human being. Bethlehem is situated amidst hope and joy, sorrow and loss, conflict and chaos, healing and reconciliation, cruelty and violence, peace and justice. It is a real place, in Israel and in us.
If we don’t go to Bethlehem and see “the child lying in the manger” of our lives the “good news of great joy” announced by the angel is just information and Jesus’ birth is just another historical fact. We don’t need more facts and information. We need meaning. We need to make meaning of “the child lying in the manger” and allow him to give meaning to our lives.
If last night, Christmas Eve, celebrated the physical birth of Jesus into the world, today is about his spiritual birth in our souls. Christmas Day asks us to move from the fact of Jesus’ birth to the meaning of his birth. What does his birth mean for your life and my life? What do our lives look like now in light of this birth? How does this birth change our lives?
I can’t answer those questions for you. We must each do that for ourselves. Jesus’ birth in each of our lives is as unique and particular as is each of our lives. Today’s gospel doesn’t tell us what that meaning is or will be for us. It does, however, gives us a couple of clues about how to discover and make meaning of Jesus’ birth in our lives. The shepherds and Mary are our guides.
First, the shepherds. The angel’s announcement of Jesus’ birth interrupted their lives. It called them away from their field and watching their flock. They went to Bethlehem to find “the child lying in a manger.” The “good news of great joy” is announced in the ordinary everyday circumstances of our lives. It happens in our fields while we are watching our flocks. What are your particular fields and flocks? Family and friends, the ups and downs of life, frustrations and celebrations, joys and sorrows, illness and health,… That’s where we will make and experience the meaning of Jesus’ birth in our lives.
Christmas, however, is not an escape from our field and flock. What did the shepherds do after they saw “the child lying in the manger?” They returned. The birth that interrupted and called the shepherds away from their field and flock is also the birth that returned them to their field and flock. They returned to the same field and the same flock. Their field and flock were not different but they were. They carried the birth of Jesus within them back to their field and flock.
What about the Blessed Virgin Mary? She has much to teach us here. Notice what she says in today’s gospel. Nothing. She says nothing. Instead, St. Luke tells us she “treasured” and “pondered.” Perhaps that’s how we begin to make meaning of Jesus’ birth. Making meaning is not so much about explaining, understanding, or analyzing. It’s about wondering, musing, discovering. It’s not about finding the answer. There is no one answer or meaning of Jesus’ birth. There are as many meanings as there are fields and flocks, the circumstances of our lives.
Silent treasuring and pondering seem to be the way of St. Mary. Might they also be our way? What do you treasure about Jesus’ birth? What treasure does his birth hold for you? What does your pondering reveal about him, you, and your life together? How would your life look, be different, and be changed if you carried Jesus’ birth within you back to your fields and flocks?
The child has been born, wrapped in bands of cloth, and is lying in a manger. Leave your fields and flocks. Treasure and ponder. Return to your fields and flocks. This is our Christmas work. It will reveal the meaning of Jesus’ birth in our lives and make meaning of our lives.
So tell me, what’s next for you? What comes after the birth announcement? What will you do now?
Our closing hymn is by Chris Tomlin entitled Christmas Day. Let us listen, and, like Mary, Treasure and ponder.
Father of all, you have given us your Son to be the Saviour of the world. Welcome us your children into your kingdom And May the song of the Angels, The joy of the Shepherds And the peace of the Christ Child be in our hearts this Christmas day and always